As a member of the Winthrop Planning Commission writing in my personal capacity and a strong supporter of the Methow Housing Trust, I would like to respond to recent letter by John and Carol Lester. In this letter, the Lesters implied that there is no more water for their proposed subdivision on Wister Way because this water was already allocated to build “affordable housing.” The letter also takes an unfair swipe at Winthrop’s talented and dedicated planning director with whom I serve on the Planning Commission.
The Lesters’ letter is unfair and inaccurate. As a closed municipal system with limited capacity, Winthrop’s water is allocated first to lots with existing hook-ups and next to those in line who propose new lots requiring new hook ups. The fact of the matter is that the “affordable housing” the Lesters refer to preceded them in the water line. This affordable housing, which Winthrop and the Methow Valley desperately need for its work force, did not receive any preferential treatment.
In its Housing Action Plan, the Planning Commission just made extensive recommendations to the Town Council on ways the council can increase all types of housing, whether market or purposeful “affordable housing.” It is unfortunate that the Lesters imply that their water was somehow appropriated by a Planning Commission, which has no regulatory role in approving additional water hook-ups, or for affordable housing. We need more homes of all types within the city limits and better efforts to conserve water across the board, not rhetoric unfairly casting blame on our success in building more affordable housing.
Barry’s annual snow blower warning
To my fellow snow country folks: Now that it looks like winter has definitely settled in, I feel moved to pass on some annual advice. Especially given the Zoom Town reality of several new members to our community, some who undoubtably will be operating a snow blower for the first time.
Almost 30 years ago I had a moment of brain-deadness and ended up turning off a snow blower with my left hand, Aero Methow’ Rescue Service’s Larry Higbee making a record-breaking drive to Ephrata’s airport in 6 inches of new, wet snow, being flown to Harbor View Hospital in Seattle where three hand surgeons spent 21 man-hours rebuilding my hand. I write to remind all of you snow blower operators this winter season to not repeat my stupidity!
Even with new designs and safety features on today’s machines (mine was 20 years old 30 years ago!) blowers can still jam with wet snow or “yard” objects. Due to the potential kinetic energy stored in the engine compression and belt tension when jammed, the impellers in a blower can rotate slightly when a jammed or clogged machine is freed up. There is very little clearance in the impeller housings … if your hand is the “freeing” agent you can lose fingers or an entire hand.
Never use your hand or foot to clear a clogged or jammed snow blower. Use a broom handle or long, stout stick. All new blowers come with a plastic paddle used to clear jammed blowers. Some even advise removing the spark plug to release any engine compression before working on a machine.
Snow blowers like many powered devices are in and of themselves not dangerous. They do need to be respected and operated with care and attention. Fatigue, being in a hurry, distractions, objects left out in the snow, etc., are the real dangers.
Hopefully you will remember my story every time you operate a snow blower and not create your own story. Have a safe winter season.